Smart Setups

Keeping him busy and out of the way.

Having a puppy is a lot of work. I forgot how much work it is. LOL I like my adult dogs. The ones that already “get life” so I don’t have to monitor them all the time, worry about their bathroom needs, or deal with their frustration when they don’t get what they want RIGHT NOW. Also I hate puppy teeth–OUCH. However, it’s nice that I have not forgotten my dog trainer hat and have been able to recognize times when I can set us both up for success and build behaviors I want in my adult dog.

For example, sometimes I need to do dishes or cut up training treats in the kitchen. Kyber already spends a lot of time in his x-pen during the day and, eventually, he will get a chance to have more freedom in the house. I don’t want him “locked up” all the time! Sometimes I can’t watch him and do what I need to do but I don’t want him to cause mayhem in the kitchen either. When I need to focus on a task and keep a partial eye on my puppy, I give him something to do. Sometimes it’s a chewy or a food-stuffed toy. Something he will actively enjoy and focus on so I can split my focus and still keep him out of trouble. In addition, this teaches him to relax while I’m doing things in the kitchen AND keeps him out of my space and less interested in what I am doing. Win win.

But that’s not enough. Eventually, he is going to need to learn that he does not have access to things on the counter in the kitchen. This is hard for a puppy especially when I’m cutting up treats or preparing a meal. Right now, he cannot physically reach anything on the counter (but that will change!). Therefore, I’m starting now. If he is occupied with his chew or toy, I will toss him a treat. Double bonus for him. If he comes over and scrabbles on the counter interested in what I’m doing, I simply ignore him. He can’t get at it and I don’t want to reinforce the behavior in any way. If he gets down (or stays down in the first place), I will toss him a treat. When I treat him for having four on the floor in the kitchen, I toss the food away from where I am. I don’t want to encourage him to hover. I want him elsewhere. Eventually, I will reward him for laying on one of the kitchen rugs.

It’s amazing how well this works, too. I did a similar protocol with Kyu when he was a baby. Now, if I’m cutting up treats or food in the kitchen, I look over and find him laying on one of the rugs waiting for a goodie to be tossed his way.

About Jamie

I'm just a traditionally-trained artist with interests in dog training. I currently teach classes at the local obedience training club (tricks, freestyle, and Rally-FrEe) and I also teach classes professionally for an organization who helps veterans train their own service dogs.
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